“I’m seeing His face,” gasped Basil of Antioch as he emerged from his dream of the Last Supper; the beardless one, in the center, seemed to school his slender fingers as they tooled the damp clay into an astounding likeness: wise, discerning eyes set apart beneath the broad forehead, the long nose, the briefest of smiles that masked a tortured spirit.

Basil’s commission had been to fashion a circlet for the handcrafted pewter cup from which Jesus drank during His final meal, with the twelve in the Wall of David. He was to recreate this scene in silver, superimposed upon grape leaves. Arduous travels around the Middle East produced likenesses of all the participants save that of Jesus. Enemies of the Way were already mushrooming in the first century.

Such a narrative unfolds in Thomas B. Costain’s historical novel The Silver Chalice (1952). Its tattered blue cover, streaked with watermarks and smudges, opened me to the enthusiasm of Jesus’s first followers, alive with His teachings, in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome. No matter the dangers, even death, that courted them on all sides and compelling them to live in secrecy and poverty. In hushed tones they greeted each with “Jesus is risen!” My heart burned within me.

So why does Jesus’s simple message create persecutions that continue into our times, especially in Middle East Nigeria and other countries around the world? The Internet lists such atrocities.

Why the aversion to live His Way in humility?

It does work! It really does!